Cathay Pacific Closing Vancouver Crew Base

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is unique among airlines in that they have quite a few foreign crew bases (having a couple of foreign bases isn’t unusual, but Cathay Pacific has historically had quite a few).

Cathay Pacific foreign crew bases

While many Cathay Pacific pilots and flight attendants are based in Hong Kong, in the past they’ve also had crew bases in North America, including in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. Unfortunately they’ve been closing some of those bases — for example, the Toronto one closed in early 2019.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER

I don’t know of any other Asian airline that has North American based crews, so that does make them unique.

I’ve flown with crews from all five of their North American bases, and I find that they’re generally a mixed bag. In my experience the Hong Kong based crews are extremely polished and poised, while the North America based crews can be more fun and informal.

Whereas a Hong Kong based flight attendant might say “Mr. Schlappig, would you care for a glass of champagne?” a North America based flight attendant might say “want some champagne, honey?” šŸ˜‰

Heck, a couple of years ago I had a Cathay Pacific flight attendant who used to work for US Airways.

Cathay Pacific first class service

Cathay Pacific is closing their Vancouver crew base

Cathay Pacific has today announced that they’re closing their Vancouver cabin crew base, meaning they’ll be laying off 147 people. With the Toronto base having been closed last year, it means Cathay Pacific will no longer have Canada based cabin crews.

Cathay Pacific has obviously had an incredibly challenging several months, starting with the Hong Kong protests, and then with the global coronavirus scare.

While the Hong Kong based airline has asked employees to take unpaid leave, this is the first case of Cathay Pacific laying anyone off since the coronavirus situation started.

The airline has separate unions representing some foreign bases, so presumably it was easier for the airline to start with layoffs there, rather than with their Hong Kong crews. On top of that, with Cathay Pacific reducing schedules, it’s easier to have as many crews centrally based in Hong Kong, rather than at outstations.

This also comes around the same time that Cathay Pacific is canceling their Vancouver to New York flight, which they’ve operated for many years.

Bottom line

It’s sad to hear that Cathay Pacific will be closing their Vancouver crew base. These are the first job losses at Cathay Pacific since the situation has gotten worse.

I feel badly for the nearly 150 people losing their jobs. At the same time, if Cathay Pacific doesn’t start making more cuts, a lot more people will be out of their jobs soon one way or another.

Have you ever flown with a Vancouver based Cathay Pacific crew? If so, what was your experience like?

  1. Will they be given the option to work for Cathay in Hong Kong (presumably after the situation gets better)

  2. This is interesting. I have the same kind of experience on CX, but in my case, Hongkonger crew are generally the biggest “mixed bag” by far.

    My CX experience is every other crew (Korean, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Japanese, Malaysian, Filipino, Thai…) is superlative and obviously delivering the experience as designed by CX… and often the Hong Kong crew would not be able to deliver the same. My least polished CX flights also all happened to have Hong Kong ISMs.

    Diversity is Cathay’s strength, and a part of me can’t help but wonder if they’re cutting all the other folks to protect employment of HKers who may or may not deserve to stay, just because the government wanted them to hire more locals.

  3. @stratifier: that’s how the world works. You can tell that to USCIS and Trump. One of the requirements for foreigners to continue working in the US is to prove that it’s the job that no local is eligible to do. It’s there to protect US citizens.

  4. @ JB – Even if they are given the option to work in hong kong, but logistically how ? How would someone live in Vancouver your whole life and suddenly move to another country ? Especially those are married with children ? Then whatabout visas and passports ? The closest base to YVR would actually be SFO, but they cant change neither, once again, how would they deal with visas and passports ? Even if they can change bases, they would start at the bottom at the particular base, who would want that ? I was just on JFK-YVR a few weeks ago, the senior purser was telling me that the purser actually worked longer than her in CX, but she wasnt in YVR base as long as the senior purser, so seniority within the base is very important

  5. on one of my recent trips from YVR to HKG the pilot came to greet me and we had a brief chat, he was from Chiliwack. very sad to hear about those layoffs.

  6. I’ve always had a special feeling about CX YVR over the years. Cancelling the JFK-YVR flight was the first cut that made us realize we were expendable. It eliminated our only F cabin flight to HKG.

    By now eliminating the YVR based crew CX
    has broken any ties we had left.

  7. Why has CX stocks only declined 14% in three months (29% in a year), but AA is down 47% in just a month?

  8. Flew with the vancouver crew last Dec, and they were absolutely awesome! Wrote a letter of appreciation for them. Sad that it’s going to close down!

  9. @DT: The reason for the lower decline rate for Cathay Pacific stocks is probably because they were already hammered by the Hong Kong protests.

  10. @Mark , But CX stock wasn’t down that much during the protests either. Down 29% from a year ago (the protests started less than a year ago).

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